The Tuesday Count: Ballot measure growth spurt continues across the country

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February 21, 2012

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Edited by Al Ortiz

The floodgates have been opened. Following the one certification in last week's report, the Tuesday Count lunged upwards by 5 ballot measures, inflating the count to 66 ballot measures in 25 states.

One of those ballot measures was in Oklahoma, and dealt with the state parole process. The certified legislative referral would remove the Oklahoma Governor from the parole process in the state. According to reports, the proposal's author was House Speaker Kris Steele. The bill's formal title in this year's state legislative session was Senate Joint Resolution 25.

The state House of Representatives passed the proposal on February 14 with a vote of 81-7. The measure had been previously passed by the Oklahoma State Senate, making the House vote the final legislative passage needed for ballot access.

The New Mexico Legislature had one of the shortest state legislative sessions this year, lasting about only one month. During that time though, the ballot in the southwest state got a little spicier with the addition of four LRCAs.

Three of the four relate to the state Public Regulation Commission, albeit in different ways.

The first measure would raise the qualifications required to be public regulation commissioner. Reports stated that legislative supporters were unsatisfied with the qualifications required to become a commissioner.

Next, a measure was passed to the ballot that would remove the job of chartering corporations from the Public Regulations Commission to the New Mexico Secretary of State. The last measure dealing with the state PRC would remove the insurance division from the Public Regulations Commission, and make it an independent entity.

The fourth ballot proposal of the group would make the office of state public defender separate from the state government.

Moving on from this week's certifications, and only one state over from New Mexico, two recent 2012 legislative ballot proposals in Arizona could have a long-term impact on state elections.

Featured campaign quotes:
Oklahoma SQ 762 - Support
Speaker of the State House Kris Steele
Letting the governor focus on parole recommendations for violent crimes is a critical component of Oklahoma’s recent progress to build a stronger, more effective criminal justice system.[1]

Oklahoma SQ 762 - Opposition
State Representative Jason Murphey
When you take the governor out of [the parole] process [for non-violent crimes] the people of Oklahoma have no one to hold accountable...[1]

The first one addresses the issue of taxes on the statewide ballot, which could create even more heat under the desert sun. The measure was introduced by State Rep. David Stevens, among others, who seek to require that any tax hike proposed in the state be only approved by a 2/3rds vote of the public. The bill's formal title in session is HCR 2043.

The second proposal was filed to change an aspect of initiative rules. The measure would mandate that re-authorization votes take place regarding ballot initiatives. The measure was introduced, according to reports, because of concerns that after time passes, initiatives that commit money to certain uses will stay in place after they no longer serve their initial intended use. In order to overturn a voter-approved initiative, legislature must approve to do so with a three-fourths vote.

While legislative referrals dominated ballot question news, last week supporters of the Colorado Marijuana Legalization initiative turned in the additional signatures needed to make the ballot. Signatures are awaiting verification, but reports out of the state suggest that the approximately 12,000 additional signatures could help them reach the ballot.

The initiative would ask voters whether or not to legalize the use and possession of, at most, an ounce of marijuana for residents who are 21 and older.

Previously, supporters turned in signatures on January 4 to the Colorado Secretary of State's office. However, on February 3, the Colorado Secretary of State announced that the initiative effort had fallen short about 2,500 signatures. Sponsors then had until February 15 to submit the additional signatures needed.

In order to qualify the initiative, supporters must have gathered 85,853 valid signatures. Valid signatures must come from registered voters in the state.

Proposals with recent activity

Quick hits

  • Trial begins over Alaska Parental Notification Initiative: On February 13, trial began over Alaska Ballot Measure 2, the "Parental Notification Initiative" found on the 2010 statewide ballot. Arguments were heard from both sides, with Assistant Attorney General John Treptow, arguing for the measure, saying, "Abortion is a complex and weighty decision. Once the decision is made to abort it can't be reversed." Dr. Philip Darney, professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, and director of the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, argued against the measure, stating that abortion is "very safe," and that the new law "doesn't make public health sense."[2]
  • New poll out on New Jersey Marriage Referendum: On February 14 results were released by the Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics that showed support for same-sex marriage in the state. According to reports, 54% of those polled were for the referendum, 34% against, 7% undecided, and 4% stated they were for civil unions but against gay marriage. The margin of error of the poll was plus or minus 3.3%.[3]
  • Quinnipiac University Polling Institute releases report on Ohio "Right to Work" Initiative: On February 14, 2012, a poll was released by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, showing 54% supporting the measure, 40% opposed, and 6% undecided. The margin of error for the poll was 2.6%.[4] This measure was proposed quickly after voters' rejection last year of Issue 2, the veto referendum on the labor-related Senate Bill 5.


SPOTLIGHT:Michigan primary sees wide variety of issues to be decided
Next week, February 28, Michigan will have its primary election and thirty counties have posted information about local measures which will also appear on ballots. A total of 62 measures have been posted, including school bond and tax measures as well as city and county taxes. Some school measures of note include the East Lansing and Buchanan school bond measures. The East Lansing bond would be for $53 million which would go towards general renovations and upgrades for the schools. Committees have been formed to support the measure but also to look for other alternatives should the measure fail. In the Buchanan school district, the bond would be for $19.5 million and would be the second attempt by the district to pass a bond in the past two years. School officials looked for resident input after the previous bond failed in the hopes that this new one would better serve resident's desires for the schools.

Also, a small election in some Wisconsin school districts will be held today.

From last week, the Latvian referendum to add Russian as an official language in the country failed with 75 percent of votes against.

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Which state does not allow legislatively-referred constitutional amendments to be sent to the ballot?
Click here to find out!

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Prop. 8 defenders seek en banc hearing: Defenders of California's Proposition 8 are asking for the full Ninth Circuit to rehear the case. Previously, the measure was struck down by a three-judge panel.[5]

Attorney fees in dual Nebraska challenges: After losing to plaintiffs on several key points in Bernbeck v. Gale and Citizens in Charge v. Gale, the state of Nebraska has agreed to pay ACLU litigators $275,000 in legal fees. The ACLU had sought $303,000, but ultimately accepted the lower negotiated amount.[6]

A new update will be released on February 29, 2012. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2012 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2012 Scorecard